\ ˈī(-ə)l How to pronounce aisle (audio) \

Definition of aisle

1a(1) : a passage (as in a theater or railroad passenger car) separating sections of seats
(2) : such a passage regarded as separating opposing parties in a legislature supported by members on both sides of the aisle
b : a passage (as in a store or warehouse) for inside traffic
2 : the side of a church nave separated by piers from the nave proper
walk down the aisle or less commonly go down the aisle
: to get married Prenuptial agreements have long been used by couples who want to set down the terms of any future divorce before they walk down the aisle.— Desa Philadelpha

Examples of aisle in a Sentence

The bride walked down the aisle to the altar. By the end of the concert, the people in the theater were dancing in the aisles.
Recent Examples on the Web McCarthy repeatedly brought up Banks and Jordan on Thursday, arguing that their absence from the committee showed that Democrats were not interested in working across the aisle to unearth facts about the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. Matt Brown, Washington Post, 9 June 2022 His counterpart across the aisle seemed to echo the sentiment. Farnoush Amiri And Lisa Mascaro, Anchorage Daily News, 8 June 2022 California's senior senator is a believer in bipartisanship, civility and working across the aisle. Jill Filipovic, CNN, 8 June 2022 His counterpart across the aisle seemed to echo the sentiment. Lisa Mascaro,, 7 June 2022 Curtis sits on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and highlighted the need to reach across the aisle to pass legislation at a recent debate. Bryan Schott, The Salt Lake Tribune, 6 June 2022 The woman yelled for her husband, who was seated across the aisle, the Washington Post reports. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, 3 June 2022 Jordan said Democrats never reached across the aisle to seek Republicans’ input on the legislation being considered, and accused them of rushing to convene on it to appeal to Democratic primary voters. Nolan D. Mccaskill, Los Angeles Times, 2 June 2022 Schumer implored his Republican colleagues to cast aside the powerful gun lobby and reach across the aisle for even a modest compromise bill. Lisa Mascaro, ajc, 25 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'aisle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of aisle

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for aisle

Middle English ele, eill, ile, ilde "lateral division of a church on either side of the nave, usually divided from the nave by pillars," borrowed from Anglo-French ele, esle, aile, ile "wing, wing of a building, lateral division of a nave" (continental Old French ele "wing, wing of a building"), going back to Latin āla "wing" — more at ala

Note: The Middle English forms ile, ilde show assimilation to ile, ilde "island" (see isle entry 1)—the rows on either side of the nave perhaps being thought of as isolated from the rest of the church—and effectively supplant ele, eill, etc. in the sixteenth century. The d in ilde is a secondary extrusion (compare mold entry 3). In early Modern English ile competes orthographically with a variety of other spellings, as ayle/aile, which appears to have regressed to the sense "wing" and adopted the Middle French spelling aile, an etymologizing variant of earlier ele; and isle, which copies the spelling of isle entry 1. The now standard spelling aisle looks like a merger of aile and isle. Samuel Johnson enters aisle in his dictionary (1755) with some reluctance: "Thus the word is written by [Joseph] Addison, but perhaps improperly; since it seems deducible only from either aile, a wing, or allée, a path; and is therefore to be written aile." As Johnson was likely aware, aisle had developed a broadened sense "passage between pews in the middle of a church" that copies a now out-of-use sense of alley entry 1. The still broader extensions "passage between seats in a train, bus or airplane" and "space between rows of items in a department store or supermarket" first appeared in American English.

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The first known use of aisle was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

20 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Aisle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for aisle


\ ˈīl How to pronounce aisle (audio) \

Kids Definition of aisle

1 : a passage between sections of seats (as in a church or theater)
2 : a passage between shelves (as in a supermarket)

More from Merriam-Webster on aisle

Nglish: Translation of aisle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of aisle for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about aisle


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